Talon in the air by Jonathan Bull
At last the Rotorway A600 Talon is CAA approved to fly in the UK and no areas have needed any upgrade or alteration to gain this acceptance. This autumn has been a very busy time in our workshop and I have only managed to fly for three hours in our A600 G-TALN but even in this short time it has been a super model to fly and is probably the best helicopter Rotorway have made.
Now everybody knows that the A600 is not a completely new model but an upgrade of the great 162F, there are many areas of improvement but a lot of the 162F parts are used because of their proven reliability in use over many years. The tail belt drive has gone being replaced by a shaft drive, this I am sure came about because of public opinion from those who did not understand the original drive and were unaware of its lightness and reliability if adjusted and maintained as per Rotorways maintenance requirements. Nevertheless the new tail shaft drive is well made and should help sales to those who were sceptical of the tail belt drive.
If there is one area I like the most it is the new cog belt final drive which replaces the chain drive. The old drive was very strong and reliable but on a few models the oil bath would leak a little and with all drive belts just below it was not an area where you wanted oil to be. The cog belt has a spring loaded tensioner and the absence of the chain and oil bath make for a lighter, cleaner and easier to work on helicopter, it also sounds like a turbine as the rotor system slows down after landing.
The A600 has an electric clutch which makes life a little easier than using the hand clutch but the upgrade does not stop there. The pulley for the clutch now acts on the outside of the main belts so as it engages it gives the belts a much larger contact area with the pulleys. A roof mounted switch engages the clutch motor and is left in the on position; the same switch is used to disengage the clutch by holding it in the rear position for seven seconds. The main sprag clutch is still built in to the secondary drive unit. A new type main belt is used for the outside pulley.
The landing gear has been widened and its height increased and this makes the helicopter look much more purposeful and as the main shaft is now almost upright, take offs and landings should be easier. The skid tubes are much longer at the front, are built from larger tubing and have metal inserts at the front of both tubes to help strengthen this area in a run on landing. The rear legs are also of thicker walled material.
A glass cockpit is standard on all Talon kits, ours has the MGL Enigma but future kits will have the upgraded MGL Discovery lite, the only thing it does not do is make you a cup of coffee. There is both visual and audio warning of such things as low rpm or low oil pressure etc. and the display can view several different screens, all are able to be set up by the user. A great piece of kit that will take me several hours of practice to get the best out of it.
Our A600 has the optional governor fitted, Rotorway have stopped production of this unit at the moment but we are sure they will produce a new improved model soon. Of course this governor does not make the Rotorway any more powerful and all pilots will still have to be aware of its limitations but, as far as I am concerned it transformed flying this aircraft. With a switch on the cyclic it maintains the rpm at 100% very accurately and you can feel the collective throttle grip moving slightly in your hand. The pilot still has full control over the rpm and the governor can be overridden at any time using the standard collective grip. A great addition that I hope Rotorway bring back into production soon as we have several orders for this upgrade.
Other upgrades to the A600 include leather seats, an electric water pump with extra wiring to enable you to prime the cooling system after any hose replacement without the engine running and a lighter battery now located in the aircrafts nose.
As a note, Southern Helicopters has minor mods to enable some of the A600 upgrades to be fitted to other Rotorway models. These include the cog belt system, the electric clutch and the higher landing gear, none are cheap but are well made.